the filmmaker's scrapbook
(Solrun at far right)
filmmaker, I will edit for length, to achieve focus and coherence,
or present a certain impression or idea that I want to convey.
In so doing I take a risk and my cuts are subject to my conditioning.
We cannot be one hundred percent sure that we are not doing someone
an injustice when taking their words out of context in a lengthy
One of my
favorite interviews in my new film Rushing to Sunshine
is the fisherman who says about the media "They always take
out a little and put back a little. If there weren't little lies
added, people wouldn't read it. That's why they have the editing
and all that."
it I am questioning my own practice as much as commenting on the
media's handling of the West Sea incident in June 1999.
Diaries is structured as a filmmaker's journey of discovery
and inquiry. It uses footage from two trips, two years apart,
but not chronologically (as I do in the new film Rushing to
Sunshine). The opening trainride is from the second trip in
1996. The departure again by train is from the first in '94. The
diary gives clues to this and dates throughout where the timeframe
is particularly important.
from "On Film as Fragments", an article published in
The Journal of Design
Culture and Criticism, (in Korean) Seoul, No. 05, 2001 after
the screening of Pyongyang Diaries in the Pusan International
Contemporary Art Festival (PICAF 2000).
in 1990 by Solrun Hoaas and Denise Patience for Goshu Films Pty.
Ltd. with funding from the Australian Film Finance Corporation,
Film Victoria, Bandai Co., and Ronin Films.
release: Australia & Japan. TV sales include: Encore Pay TV,
(but to date no broadcast), Channel Four (U.K.), Japan, Norway,
Hbo-Asia 2nd Ch., Asia SAT1, China, Singapore, Ireland, Malaysia,
Yugoslavia, Poland, Thailand, Cable for Latin-Am. and Eastern
in several international film festivals, including:
(Competition), Toronto, Torino (competition), Hof, Brisbane, Hawaii,
Gøteborg, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Troia,
six Australian Film Institute Award nominations, including Best
Actress, but also elicited highly polarized responses in Australia.
the second feature film produced in Australia with an Asian woman
in a leading role.
excerpts from festival catalogues and press:
tale of transculturation and self-preservation, Aya offers
an important perspective on representing confrontations of race,
tradition and personal aspirations."
World Cinema" (catalogue entry, Toronto) by Helga Stephenson,
* * *
women [....] are portrayed in western cinema as gentle, chaste
and elegant - an approach which has a kind of fairytale-like nostalgia
about it, but which also conveys a lack of self-reliant individuality
and in this sense is faintly derogatory. [........]
film Aya (l991) which broke away from these stereotypes
and pointed the way to a new direction deserves to be noted. In
the film Eri Ishida plays a Japanese woman who marries an Australian
and settles down in Australia. Charming, devoted and loving though
she is, she is not overly dependent on the man she loves, and
if things don't work out it is evident that she can divorce her
husband and start a business. She is, in short, an ordinary woman
found anywhere, portrayed attractively and above all, with realism."
changes but stereotypes remain" by Tadao Sato, Cinemaya
No. 17-18, 1992-93
* * *
Hoaas gives us the brief exchanges that must carry the weight
of the partners' emotions, the gestures that take over when language
fails and the silences that are the most eloquent of all.
She is quite
perceptive about the way such marriage works. Unlike other directors
who have attempted films about bicultural couples and got only
one partner really right (see Alan Parker's Come See the Paradise).
Hoaas knows both sides of the cultural equation. [....}
By the end
of the film, we not only like Aya, with her gutsy charm, but feel
that we know her. She is a sister to the Japanese woman we met
in a small Ohio town, growing kyuri in her back yard, showing
us the kokeshi doll collection in her living room and talking
with pride about the two all-American kids she has raised. She
is at once a very typical Japanese and a uniquely international
views a cultural chasm" by Mark Schilling, The Japan
* * *
subject matter is dealt with seriously, respectfully and sympathetically,
but the result is curiously unaffecting. Aya is at the centre
of almost every sequence, but she remains more like a shadow than
a character, physically present but emotionally remote. Things
happen to her, but the film never manages to take us inside her
experience of them."
lonely bride who married an alien culture" by Tom Ryan, The
Sunday Age, 20 October 1991.
* * *
love story with complex emotional multi-layered performances,
enhanced by beautiful and sensitive images; Roger Mason's memorable,
haunting score uses repetitive phrases to portray the complexities
of both Japanese and western culture."
by Lousie Keller, Moving Pictures International, 25 July
* * *
works through a series of pessimisms to come to its ultimate
optimistic conclusion. Its compression of more than two decades
of her life into 95 minutes of screen time makes for a somewhat
staccato structure that is remarkable for the way in which Hoaas
has distilled from each episode a statement that advances the
drama and augments the film-goer's involvement with Aya to make
the film so rewarding."
ultimately optimistic ending" by Dougal MacDonald, The
Canberra Times, May
perspectives from different stages in a film practice
Search of the Japanese
a speech on a panel of Australian and Japanese women artists,
"Continuum 1985", Melbourne.
spent ten years of my childhood in Japan, but I grew up as a typical
Kobe gaijin, a foreigner living in the international port
city of Kobe, never learning Japanese in School, but only basic
spoken Japanese, and spending much of my time in an international
environment. Yet surrounding me was every aspect of Japanese culture
from the ofuro bath and tatami floor in a Swiss-style
mansion to the constant exchanges of gifts and ingrained sense
of reciprocity in social relationships. These things were normal
and natural, as were the plastic food replicas in the restaurants
or the crowded trains, and never cause for alarm, categorization
into Western or Japanese, or any sense of 'otherness'.
sneak off to see American or French movies, and had a passion
for drawing fashions and writing poetry and diaries, and in my
Senior year in High School (Canadian Academy) discovered theatre,
but we were doing inane British or American comedies. Then I had
a nisei (second generation Japanese American) English teacher
from New York who had come back to discover his roots. He took
us to Kabuki for the first time and it blew my mind. He had us
write haiku and poems on 'belling deer' and 'morning glories'.
Then fed up with our ignorance and puritanism, he ran away from
school and found a music and dance teacher in Kyushu. I worshipped
him. Before that my awareness of Japanese art had been confined
to flower arrangement and Buddhist art in neighborhood temples,
yet I was constantly surrounded by it in the everyday - packaging
and presentation, architecture...
year I spent some time writing a partly autobiographical script
and sorting out some of these early influences on my perception.
This was partly prompted by comments I have often had that there
is something very Japanese about my films, aside from the content.
are two things in particular that struck me:
that I was constantly returning to a disjunction between sound
and picture in the script, even though I had not thought consciously
of using non-sync sound, as I had done in my six first films because
I was filming entirely alone. And yet in scripting there was a
split between the content of image and that of the diary voice-over,
setting up a tension between the two. In the script it was an
expression of dislocation, or incongruousness: the Norwegian family
and American influenced school life reflected in the diary against
the images of Japan or current events of the time on the other:
a sense of being there but not there at all, and yet together
they were an experience of post-war Japan of the fifties.
between sound and image occurs in Effacement, a
film about a Noh mask maker, where the sounds from each stage
of the wood carving are heard at a different time from when seen
in the picture, but every stage has been seen, thus creating an
an early film on Judith Wright and someone commented that it had
something Japanese about it. I couldn't work that out. A film
about an Australian poet in her bush environment. Other than that
Judith's daughter who lives in Kyoto and is an expert on the poetry
of Miyazawa Kenji, had said she had to have orange or saffron
curtains because of being partly Buddhist, I couldn't see it.
is in that film as in other documentaries a tendency to forego
the linear narrative in documentary and search for poetry as a
model for documentary, using repetitions of images, or ones that
have an echoing effect, that give a sense of rhymes or rhythms.
There are cross-references or 'ghosting' throughout the films.
Some prefer to see them as circular in structure.
sometimes disconcerting shifts in time and space there may also
be an influence of Japanese theatre. When I returned to Japan
in 1969 as a graduate student to study theatre, for a while I
had a passion for avant garde theatre: those were the early days
of Terayama Shuji's Tenjo sajiki, the tent theatre
of Kara Juro, and others. My other passion was Noh theatre and
masks, which focus on one single strong emotion, and generate
a high level of tension, yet a sense of detachment.
tendency I am aware of in my work is to search for what I will
call a 'pillow image' - similar in some respects to the concept
of the 'pillow shot' in Noel Burch's analysis of Ozu. It is an
attempt to find the image that provides these echoings and ghosting,
cross-references to other parts of the work, or even conjure up
associations with something outside it, but images that say it
all. In a recent film, Pre-occupied, which I directed for
the Victorian Women's Film Unit, it was a final close-up of a
child's hand putting yellow leaves into a woman's red sandal.
It had no logical explanation.
series of four films of two hours have been screened as one program
at the Longford Cinema (Melbourne), Image
Forum (No. 337, 21-24 June, 1984, Tokyo) and the Hawaii International
Film Festival 1990. The following article or paper was found without
any name of author or publication/presentation data in the scrapbook.
It was probably written after Sacred Vandals was screened
in the Film and History Conference, Melbourne in 1984 or the RAI
Anthropological Film Festival in London in 1985. If anyone recognizes
the article and can enlighten me about the author and source,
please contact me.
Here is an excerpt. SH
* * *
Hatoma Films of Solrun Hoaas
Film is often
seen as a window onto the world, and this is often the justification
for using film in the educational context. Perhaps it is this
view of film which leads to a preference for non fiction film
over fiction film in teaching. However, film is not a transparent
representation of the world but a construction which embodies
a series of codes and conventions which carry with them one or
more points of view. In using film in either teaching or research
it is necessary to be sensitive to the way in which points of
view are encoded into the film. This is the case with Waiting
for Water, The Priestess/The Storekeeper and Sacred
the films the style is immediately striking, and challenges our
way of seeing and representing other cultures. Hoaas has said
"to believe one can ever become a part of another culture when
filming it, is supremely naive" and the style of the films reflects
this view. While the films each have some stylistic differences
they have a number of features in common. In common with many
non fiction films there is no pretense of being able to give an
omniscient view of the culture being filmed. Nor do the films
make any attempt to hide their constructed nature. In fact the
film maker signals in a number of ways that what is being shown
is a very personal view of the people and events being filmed.
Waiting for Water has a diary-like voice-over narration.
This narration focuses as much upon the responses of the diarist
to the events, as upon an explication of the events. There are
elements of this diary approach in Sacred Vandals as well.
In each of the films there are at least three levels of "narration".
There is the voice over narration by the film maker (...) which
explains, or comments upon, events. Functioning as another form
of narration are snatches of conversation between Hoaas and the
women, or between the women themselves, recorded at the time of
the action. A third level of narration is supplied by brief fragments
of conversation between Hoaas and the women recorded later (as
evidenced by a different quality in the sound) and forming a commentary
on what is seen in the visuals......"
Sorun Hoaas, March 2005.
to Solrun Hoaas profile